Bryant, Duncan, Garnett, and Nowitzki — Where Will Their Legacies End?
A lot of times in pro sports there’s so much focus on looking towards the future. Whether your team can stack up against the best or not and if they can’t when will that date occur. In the NBA this is more evident than in most of the other major sports as is seems every conversation must be progressive or it has no value to it.
I’m going to briefly do the bold move and look back, because whether we like it or not, an era is now closing on the NBA. This past week, word came down that Steve Nash was going to miss the rest of the season, which will also mean he will more than likely retire from the game as well as he’s previously stated this would have been his last go around. Nash can really symbolize the start of something bigger: for the next few years the NBA could and probably will lose former MVP’s to retirement. So here’s a quick look at these all timers that will be hanging it up in the near future and why we should appreciate and savor each of their moments, because like Nash, we don’t know if it can be their last.
Duncan is the best power forward in the history of basketball. It’s really more of a fact now than an argument, ESPN annual GM poll as well as many rankings justifiably have him there. Duncan has already won 5 titles and despite coming up on the age of 39 soon, has proven to be an effective player. The 2 time league MVP was drafted into San Antonio and along with Gregg Popovich totally transformed a franchise and made it the model of the NBA. Duncan continues to play in the same ways that got him rings, fundamental based and always unselfish. Many have already said that this will likely be Duncan’s last season, despite him still proving to be a key part of a championship team.
One of Duncan’s biggest rivals with nothing but respect for one another. Nowitzki finally broke free of his playoff demons in 2011 by leading a Cinderella Mavs team to the title over LeBron James. Nowitzki himself was also league MVP in 2007 and like Duncan, has remained one of the quietest yet most effective superstars in recent league history. The 36 year old has also managed to fend off father time for a bit while proving to still be an all-star caliber player with the same Mavs team that drafted him more than 16 years ago. He will likely go down as the best shooting big man of all time as well as the best foreign player to ever play as well. Dirk’s new contract will likely be his last so we have roughly three more years to enjoy the big German and his jumper.
Garnett shouldn’t be remembered for his time in Brooklyn. The league MVP in 2004 and 15 time all-star is now a shell of himself as he nears 39 this May. Garnett’s prime was undoubtedly wasted in Minnesota where they were never able to put the right team around him to make a title run. Nonetheless, his 5 years in Boston made him a true Celtic great. Despite not winning Finals MVP, Garnett proved to be the missing piece in Boston and he played a huge role in the 2008 championship. Garnett, who was and continues to be one of the fiercest competitors in the league, was also one of the best defenders at his position of all time. This will be his last season in the league as he’s stated previously, hopefully he can go out on a high note.
Last but not least, we have the black mamba. His NBA duration future will likely be decided this season in his return from a lost season. However, at 36, Kobe’s days of being the alpha dog of the league are over. The one time league MVP and 2 time finals MVP can still play, it’s his health that will be a question as to where Bryant will rank all time in stats (currently 4th in points all time). Bryant is the closest thing to Jordan we’ve seen no matter how you want to spin it. His last few years (likely 2-3 seasons he will play) should really be appreciated and enjoyed, whether his team is relevant or not. The former 18 year old rookie has certainly come a long way, it will be interesting to see how he will finish.